A Greenfield remedy for lingering post-pandemic blues will be an uplifting Christmas musical extravaganza to unfold Sunday, Dec. 18. The Pipes of Christmas will highlight the three magnificent and historical organs in Greenfield.
The musical tour will consist of an inspiring Christmas half hour organ recital at each of the organ venues — the First Presbyterian Church, the First Methodist Church, and culminating in the E.L. McClain High School Auditorium. At the gym, the Greenfield Community Choir and the McClain Show Choir will add their voices to the celebration. A brass quintet will be featured as well.
Ticket holders will be divided in half for performances at each church, then will switch so the audiences can hear both offerings. Movement between the churches, separated by several blocks, will be on foot via the direction of monitors. Limited motor transportation will be provided for those in need. Once the church performances are complete, the audiences will converge on the McClain Auditorium for the grand finale.
The oldest of the three instruments, the Lyon and Healy organ of the First Presbyterian Church, was installed during the building’s construction in 1904 by Chicago’s Lyon and Healy Company, initially known as manufacturers of orchestral harps, at a cost of $4,730. First Presbyterian organist/pastor Mike Anderson will perform “Joy to the World” accompanied by David Weaks singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Angels We Have Heard On High.” There will also be a solo by organist John Huffman. In addition, the Moon Chimes, under the direction of Mindy Hunter, will ring out in their unique charm “Silent Night,” performance to be interpreted in American Sign Language by Tom Schluep and Molly Townsend. At closing, all present will join in a spirited singing of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
The First Methodist Church’s Estey Organ, manufactured by the Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro, Vermont, was installed in 1912, boosted by a $1,000 donation from the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Several organists will perform, including Griffin Foltz doing a jazz version of “What Child Is This?” then well-known organist David Pettit doing the American folk hymn “Wondrous Love” as well as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” to be followed by an improvisation “Three Songs of Christmas.” Cellist Shu-Li Cheah will present a J.S. Bach piece, The Prelude to Suite Number One for Cello, followed by a Postlude, an excerpt from C-M Widor’s Organ Symphony No. 5. This performance will include a number by the engaging Cockerill Bells directed by Jo Ellen Gossett.
E.L. McClain High School is one of only seven high schools in the country boasting an in-house organ, a Skinner instrument installed during the school’s construction in 1915. Once both audiences have assembled in the auditorium, the program will begin with the high school’s show choir, under the direction of Loretta Flora, joining the community choir, under the direction of James Knisley, and a brass ensemble under the direction of Rick Duffus. With David Pettit playing the organ, this ensemble will perform a number of classic Christmas songs including “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “The Holly and the Ivy,” concluding with a spirited rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” for all to join in. The show choir will offer “Carol of the Bells” and, as a finale, the McClain alma mater.
Tickets for The Pipes of Christmas are on sale at the offices of the three organ venues as well as at Community Savings Bank or online via The Pipes of Christmas Facebook page. They are $10 for adults and $5 for those under 12.